Healing water and mussels a la Ruth and James

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Water truly is an amazing liquid, not just for drinking but for its healing, restorative and calming properties. Went to Bath this weekend with my husband and spent 3 hours in Thermae Bath Spa. Before we left I felt a bit worn out and unwell, a mixture between my body working hard to heal itself from my wisdom tooth removal and fighting not to catch a bad cold that my husband brought home from work ( thank you very much ). After the hours of sweating it out in the very hot steam rooms, breathing in the essential oils ( lotus to calm and lemon grass to clear out those germs from my pipes ) and immersing myself into the smooth warm mineral waters whilst watching the sun going down over the roof top pool, I felt amazing (as amazing as one can after having sweated like a pig for 3 hours)

Water is also really good as a pain reliever. I gave birth to both Z1 & Z2 in water ( well technically Z1 wasn’t actually born in the water since she wasn’t too keen on the popping out bit, but I did manage the many hours before without the use of serious pain relief (only some gas and air) thanks to being submerged in water. Believe me the few times I had to get out of the water were not fun, to put it mildly, and getting back into the water was heaven!

Another water thingie that I do sometimes is winter swimming. We have some dear friends in Belgium that we go and visit every now and again and whenever we go there we go for a dip in the lakes. Regardless if it’s October or February. We usually jog for 5 minutes before to get warm and then into the very cold water we go. You feel so good afterwards, it’s really magical. ( Read more about the health benefits of winter swimming and why one has to be a bit careful)
The magic is being helped by that after the very cool dip we go back to the house, light a fire, crack open a bottle of wine and cook some mussels ( my husband and Ruth always fight about the best way to cook them but as the title indicates the final recipe is a merge between the two of them )

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For 4 people as a main
2 kg mussels
2 celery sticks sliced
1 leek sliced
A handful of finely chopped parsley
Black pepper

For the dipping sauce
8 tablespoons of Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

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Clean the mussels, throw away the ones that stay open. Cook up the leek and celery with some olive oil for about 5 minutes then add the parsley. Add a bit of water about an inch (2,5 cm) boil up vigorously then add the mussels and cook with a lid. 3-4 minutes in give them a good shake, trying to get the ones at the bottom up to the top. In about 10 minutes they should be cooked but you need to check that most of them are open and are well cooked. Even if you serve them and think they are undercooked you can just pop them back into the pot and cook some more. To make the dipping sauce just mix the ingredients and add some liquid from the mussels ( about 1-2 tablespoons ) Should taste quite strong of the mustard and not be too runny.

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In Belgium they usually cycle to pick up some french fries for having with the mussels but since that isn’t the most healthy thing I would say serve with whole wheat baguette or some roasted sweet potatoes.

Mussels are low in calories and fat but high in protein and many vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in B12 and selenium.

Macademia nut butter smoothie with mint dark chocolate covered macademia nuts

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It’s been one of those weird weekends. A mixture of good and bad. Lots of really good, positive stuff happening. We started the weekend with some possibly great news, then accidentally found a guy who had performed at the opening ceremony for London Olympics doing bubbles ( that’s right, bubbles) and watching Z1 & Z2 ( our little ones) running after these really truly amazing bubbles was a great experience, then doing Pilates and realising that hey I’m actually stronger than this no muscle woman that I thought I was!

Then on the negative side…..the stupid stupid painful tooth ( or lack thereof ), rain most of the weekend and some stressful things hanging over my head.

Then today I decided to go gluten free for a while ( stomach just ain’t working as it should ) which I’m actually fine about doing. I have been craving bread lately which could be a sign that my body is not dealing with it very well at the moment, i.e I’m intolerant. And it’s not a nice feeling being addicted to something. I will have so much spare time thinking about other stuff now when my brain constantly isn’t screaming bread, bread, bread!

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Anyway so because it’s been these weird good/ bad couple of days I’m in need of some celebration/ comfort treat! So this is what I made for myself tonight. It’s not diet food, it’s high in calories and high in fat. ( unless you’re on some weird LCHF diet but then you need to skip the maple syrup….and the banana) Macademia nut butter is not cheap but you can make your own apparently. But it was oh so comforting and delicious….and it’s full of good stuff instead of the usual crap that comfort/ celebration food is full of.

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Small handful of macadamia nuts
20 gr dark mint chocolate (70% minimum) Fairtrade Divine chocolate is great!
1 frozen banana
10 gr raw chocolate
1 small tablespoon of macadamia nut butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey if you can’t find maple syrup)
40 ml coconut milk ( I use Koko dairy free with added calcium and vitamins)
I added some cacao nibs (1 teaspoon) for some extra anti-oxidants but it’s not necessary)

Melt the mint dark chocolate and cover the nuts in the chocolate. Spread them out on a baking paper. ( they don’t really have to be pretty since they will be hidden in the smoothie anyway) Use a spatula and spread out the remainder of melted chocolate (for decoration) on the baking paper and then put it in the fridge. Leave for about 20 min. Blend the rest of the ingredients make sure it doesn’t get to liquidly so add the milk last and not all in one go. Finally add the chocolate covered nuts into the smoothie and serve in a martini glass. Take of some chocolate bits from baking paper and decorate. Eat with a spoon!

Macademia nuts are packed with dietary fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins like vitamin E, B1, B2, B5 folate, and minerals such as selenium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Wisdom tooth removal, pea and rocket soup and pomegranate smoothie

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Had my wisdom tooth removed today. Getting there was definitely more painful than the removal itself. Husband cycles to work but got a flat tire on the way there this morning so he had to take the train back to look after Z1 & Z2 but due to a derailed freight train he had to take the tube and then got stranded so had to take a taxi….which I then had to take to the hospital. Phew! Phoned the hospital and they said that if I was going to be more than 10 minutes late they couldn’t perform the surgery today. Got there with 2 minutes to spare due to the excellent knowledge and skills of the cabbie. London cabbies really are the best in the world (he told me these days it takes 5 years of studying to become a London cab driver…..wow)

So after the really easy and pain free wisdom tooth removal (anaesthetics hasn’t worn off yet) I can only eat liquid cold food….hmmm what to eat? Poor hubby, day from hell and he has to eat liquid cold food for dinner ( he doesn’t have to but I don’t think either of us feel like cooking 2 separate meals)

In the end I decided to go for another one of Sybil Kaphoor amazing soup recipes from the Taste cook book ( slightly adapted) and this is a really yummy soup so no poor hubby!

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Serves 4

2 bunches of spring onions, trimmed and roughly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, roughly diced
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
850 ml chicken or vegetable stock
800 g shelled peas or frozen peas
225 gr rocket
100 ml single cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50 ml single cream to serve
A handful of attractive rocket leaves to serve

In a large saucepan gently fry the spring onions and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then add the peas.

Return to the boil then cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the peas are very soft. Stir in the rocket and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then immediately liquidize.

Add the cream and season to taste. Chill or reheat depending on if you wish to serve the soup cold or hot with a swirl of cream and a few rocket leaves in the centre.

To get some protein into myself I had for dessert ( you’re never as hungry as when you’re not allowed to eat! ) this smoothie. Apart from tasting amazing and being a cold liquid it is also packed with antioxidants which is great when your body is working on healing. Recipe is adapted from eatmedelicious.com but apparently it’s originally comes from Martha Stewart.

Pomegranate, berries and pineapple smoothie

1/3 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon honey

Pop in blender and press start button. Serve over ice if you like it extra cold. In hindsight if I had to drink it again straight after having removed a tooth I would have substituted the berries with a banana to get it super smooth

A new perspective and healthy airport food!

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Left my family for the weekend to go back to the old country ( Sweden ) On the way to the airport I found myself being a bit nervous, what have I forgotten, how does one do this traveling lark on their own. I was actually more nervous than when we flew to Australia with a 2 year old and a 7 month old. ( I guess then we were prepared that the 24 h trip was going to be challenging to say the least….) Which it was! Z1 ( that’s my daughter) threw up twice on the way to the airport. ( yes she does get car sick when playing on the iPhone, I just had to make sure, that’s why I gave the iPhone back to her after having cleaned up the first mess)

Anyway it’s weird that I was nervous about this trip, I just had to look after myself and all I was bringing was just some clothes, a book, some make-up…..and that’s sort of it. Not like when I’m travelling with the kids, half an Ikea store and half a John Lewis store. And I’m not bringing anything too important either. I’m not going to lay awake all night crying because I forgot the book. I just get another one. This is easy travelling we are talking about. I think I was just feeling uncomfortable because it’s out of my routine. I’m used to going everywhere with my mini Ikea and mini John Lewis and a lot of other stuff.

But being taken out of ones routine is great, you get a new perspective on things and get to see life from a new angle. Going on a holiday is one way of doing it but it doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. Leave the house 15 min early in the morning and sit in a park and eat your breakfast one day, take the kids to the other side of town for an outing despite the fact that it will be messy and perhaps tiring, go to a museum if you haven’t been in a long time and if you go to museums all the time try a completely different kind. You get my drift? You will do something new and that is refreshing and you end up reflecting on things in your life and new ideas take form. And you create memories! All those small and big out-of-your routine-events are the ones you remember.

 

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So how about healthy eating whilst flying. Going to Sweden I didn’t have great success, I opted for a sandwich instead of a super dull-looking salad. On the way back I sort of felt like a decaf cappuccino and a muffin but walked past a great juice/ smoothie place and decided to have a juice. If I still had felt like having the muffin/ coffee combo afterwards I would have got it but I didn’t! The juice was so refreshing it got me set up for choosing a healthier option so ended up having an olives/ peppers and Parma ham salad instead. Healthy eating whilst travelling requires some planning but it’s doable. I will definitely have some red wine on the flight though. Not everyday I’m flying on my own ; )

My juice contained matcha green tea. Matcha green tea apparently contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea due to the way it’s been harvested. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine that can be useful in times of stress. It’s also good for alertness

Dinner by myself and a mozzarella, quinoa, peach, chilli and pomegranate salad!

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I was left on my own last night, husband went to the pub!!!! So had to cook for me, myself and I which I hate. My default food for when I have to eat on my own is usually gnocchi since I love it and husband hates it but gnocchi just feels too stodgy so decided to try something a bit healthier ( I will go on a search for a healthier gnocchi some other day ) Used whatever I could find in the fridge and this is what I came up with. Because of the quinoa it was really filling despite being a salad and all the goodie goodies gave it the comfort factor one needs on a cold day like yesterday ! ( It seems like summer is truly over : (

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serves 1
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup of quinoa ( I used a mixture of red and white)
2/3 of a mozzarella ball
1 peach
1/4 of an avocado
1/4 of a pomegranate ( to be prepared earlier )
A decent sized handful of mint
1/2 of a red chilli
1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil

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Start by preparing the pomegranate. Link on how to do it. I usually after step 3 put the pomegranate in a bowl of water for 15 min and then de-seed it. It makes it easier.
Wash the spinach and cook the quinoa according to instructions. Chop the chilli and mint and mix with the olive oil. Cut the peach in slices leaving the skin on and cut the avocado in 1 1/2 cm cubes. Tear the mozzarella into pieces. Mix everything together. Finish off the pomegranate and sprinkle over salad

Pomegranate – has been called a super food. Super foods are called super foods because they are super stuffed with healthy stuff. Isn’t that super duper!  No difference with pomegranates, high in vitamin c, high in anti-oxidants, good source of fibre (both soluble and insoluble) and a whole other range of other vitamins and minerals. But there has also been quite a few studies showing that pomegranate juice can possible be effective against various cancers ( mainly prostrate) Study through NHS

Quinoa – It’s a complete protein, contains all nine amino acid so great to eat if you are a vegetarian or doing sports. Rich in fibre, iron, B2. It’s also gluten-free

Sesame seed crusted tuna with asparagus and cashew nut salad

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So feeling better in terms of stress. Exercise has helped lots. NOT drinking coffee has helped, NOT drinking regular tea has helped, NOT eating sugar ( well at least very little : ( has helped. Drinking liquorice tea and liquorice smoothies has helped. But now what, I probably won’t survive on herbal tea and smoothies only! 

I decided to research foods that are helpful when one is feeling stressed and then came up with this nice (if i may say so myself) little dish that combines a lot of the recommended stress-busting food!

Serves 2

2 tuna steaks
1 bag of baby spinach
1 bundle of asparagus
130 grams of spelt pasta or pasta of your liking
2 small handfuls of cashew nuts
Shavings of Parmesan
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soya
Black pepper

tuna salad

Wash spinach and put in a bowl. Boil pasta according to instructions and steam the asparagus for 5 minutes. Roughly chop up the cashew nuts and add asparagus and cashew nuts to the spinach . Mix up balsamic vinegar and olive oil and dress the salad. When I made the salad I used a thicker balsamic vinegar and just drissled it over the salad which works as well. Shave some Parmesan over salad.

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Rub the tuna steaks with the soya sauce and sprinkle the sesame seeds over it. Place in frying pan over high heat and fry it for about a minute on each side to sear.

Magnesium – Spinach/ cashew nuts / sesame seeds / tuna
If the body has been under stress for a long time the magnesium reserves gets depleted and if the magnesium reserves are depleted the body is less able to deal with stress. This vicious circle has to be broken so munch away on as many magnesium rich foods as possible. Nuts are particularly useful, apparently munching on something crunchy is relaxing in itself!! (my husband says don’t bite your tongue though whilst munching on nuts, he did and apparently it isn’t relaxing at all)  Other sources ;  almonds, mackerel, brown rice, beans and lentils, avocado

B6 B12 – Tuna
Vitamins B6 and B12 are important for keeping stress levels in check. B12 promotes a healthy nervous system. And a healthy nervous system means the adrenal glands don’t release as much cortisol ( too much cortisol puts the body in a flight or fight mode which isn’t good if you are already stressed)

Tryptophan – Tuna, sesame seeds, cashew nuts.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body to make serotonin. (The happy happy chemical which makes us happier, calmer and better sleepers! ) So all good for combating stress.

Folic Acid– Asparagus
Asparagus has been hailed as THE chill-out vegetable. It contains bucket loads of folic acid which can help in stabilizing moods.

I did feel much calmer after this meal (however it might have had something to do with spending the weekend by the seaside as well : )